Despite losing their first match of the season away to Southampton Solent, defending champions UEL come into the match against Oxford with momentum after picking up two consecutive home wins against the University of Bath and the University of the West of England (UWE).
UEL defeated a gallant UWE side 81-46 at the SportsDock last Wednesday, as a big crowd of gathered together to loudly express their support for one of UEL’s most popular sports clubs in their fourth BUCS league match of the season so far.
It wasn’t all fun and games. The home side found themselves 10-6 down halfway into the opening quarter. UWE showed no signs of stiff muscles despite the long journey from Bristol, setting a frantic pace early on.
However, sublime speed and agility from the super-talented Kevin Moyo, combined with points from Roosevelt Davis, put the home side back on top as they led 18-12 at the break.
UEL romped through the opening of the second quarter, as they started to force errors from UWE. Tim Shodipo and Matthew Ponce helped stretched the lead to 25-12 and the UEL bench started to become very vocal and encouraging, showing the Team UEL spirit.
Against the run of play, UWE managed to find a combination of three pointers out of somewhere, narrowing the lead to 28-20. However this was short lived, as Scott Pizor took advantage of a defensive trip to stretch the lead, which UEL then further expanded to 38-24 at the halfway stage.
The pace began to slow from the visitors coming into the third stanza, and the class and focus started to show through from the home side. Towering Jonny Foulds added to the score with a top-drawer three pointer, and combined with more mind-blowing skills from Moyo and Myles Laurent-Smart, UEL increased their advantage to 54-37 at the end of the third quarter.
UEL carried the relentless pace into the final quarter as they kept mistakes to a minimum, extending their lead to 62-37 with beautiful switch-up play, and an enterprising period of points from Shodipo helped UEL to a comfortable victory, 81-46.
After the match, UEL’s new head coach Joshua Tackie paid homage to the strength of depth in his squad.
“We are still a long way away from playing good basketball, but our depth is strong” Tackie said. “It’s going to help us, I think as the game goes on, because we play all 12 guys, the other team tires.”
Tackie also mentioned the importance of versatility amongst the squad, saying “Basketball is all about making decisions, and when you have smaller guys who are used to making decisions, especially with the style we play, it’s important to have tall guys but small guys help also.”
UEL, who are currently in third place in the South Premier, will now look to climb up the table as they face 3-0 leaders Oxford away at the Oxford Sports Hall on Wednesday.